Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Celtic Harp, Vol. I: The Music of Turlough O'Carolan
Genres: Folk, World Music, New Age
The lilting, crystalline tone of the Celtic harp must be one of the most joyful sounds in mankind's history. The harp originated a thousand years ago in ancient Ireland; it shone through the age of the bards and brought ho... more »
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The lilting, crystalline tone of the Celtic harp must be one of the most joyful sounds in mankind's history. The harp originated a thousand years ago in ancient Ireland; it shone through the age of the bards and brought hope during long years of occupation and oppression. As it is a challenging instrument to play well, nearly two centuries ago the wire-strung Celtic harp was abandoned in favor of the easier to play, more subdued gut-strung neo-Irish harp. Patrick Ball would not let that sweet voice fall silent. He brings to audiences world-wide the ancient Celtic harp that "has always been loved and celebrated by the Irish people for its mystical power to enchant them, to draw them into realms beyond thought, and to refresh their spirit." That is exactly what Patrick Ball accomplishes in these five sparkling recordings. Listeners are enchanted by his performances. They are drawn to the emotional portrait that Patrick paints with each piece, romantic, melancholy or jubilant. Although Patrick is a delightful storyteller with words, these instrumental works tell their own stories, requiring nothing more than Patrick's fingernails deftly plucking the brass strings of his beautifully crafted harp. The harp he plays is a re-creation of the ancient Celtic instrument, lovingly crafted by master harp builder Jay Witcher of Houlton, Maine, who has made it his life's work to allow the sound of the great instrument to live again. Patrick Ball pays his greatest tribute to the legendary Turlough O'Carolan, a blind, itinerant harper who wandered the Irish countryside at the turn of the eighteenth century, playing for wealthy landowners. O'Carolan was witty, a prolific composer and a genius on the Celtic harp. It is little wonder that Patrick Ball has included O'Carolan's brilliant tunes in each of his first four volumes.
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P. Lozar | Santa Fe, NM USA | 05/22/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was Ball's first recording, so his technique is sometimes a little rough around the edges. But what music! Even if you've heard these tunes on the Celtic harp before (e.g., as recorded by the masterful Derek Bell of the Chieftains), this album is a revelation: the wire-strung harp gives the tunes a clarity and luminescence that a gut-strung harp never can, no matter who plays it. The arrangements show off not only the nuances of the tunes themselves, but the amazing range of the harp (on a good stereo, the low notes will rattle your windows). And the tunes are well balanced between cheerful and melancholy -- "Carolan's Farewell to Music," reputedly the last tune the composer wrote, always reduces me to a puddle. (I was once chowing down in a sushi bar when this track came on the stereo, and I nearly choked on my negi-hamachi.)"
D. H. Bergman | Los Angeles, CA | 02/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"... If Turlough O'Carolan is reembodied these days I wouldn't be surprised if he was Patrick Ball. Patrick seems to have been born to play this music in this age.I played it at the office where I work and even the rock/jazz/blues-liking people liked it. It's a great bridge to lead people from the latter grade of sound (I'm definitely prejudiced in this regard) to the realms of really beautiful music. For budget-minded people: in my opinion, save your money re Vol. 2; I prefered Vol. 1 about infinitely (regarding the selections, not the artist's playing of them). I haven't heard Vol. 3 or Vol. 4."
Beautiful, peaceful, and precise
Pauline J. Alama | Rutherford, NJ United States | 12/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I tell you this is the most relaxing music I know, you may get the wrong impression. This is no newage mush, but intricate Baroque compositions played flawlessly on an instrument with such a blissfully sweet tone that it's no wonder angels are depicted with harps. All the same, when I was stressed out in graduate school I used to play this tape every night to drive away care, and more recently, I've found it just the thing for getting my baby to settle down to sleep. The tones of the harp cascade light bright drops of water over the surface of your mind and float you to a more peaceful place. This music is like magic."